Is Cereal a Soup?

As the weather gets colder, people need to find comfortable ways to keep warm. One may look for a fuzzy blanket, a cup of hot cocoa, or a delicious bowl of soup. Or perhaps cereal? In this week’s article, I turned to the students and staff of Wheaton’s campus to determine whether a bowl of cereal with milk can be considered a soup. 

Out of the total number of students and faculty members surveyed, 25% believed that cereal could be considered a soup, leaving the majority of campus united in the belief that cereal should not be considered a soup. 

However, despite being in the minority, people were not afraid to defend their ideas. Each response has taken a different approach. Some appealed to the values of creativity and freedom of thought, arguing, “It can be whatever you want it to be! It’s alphabet soup with milk!” At the same time, others opted to persuade with pure logic, and by breaking it down. “Some people put more milk than cereal, which makes it a soup.”

More specifically, Paloma Martinez ’23 claimed, “You eat it with a spoon, it has a liquid in it, and you eat it from a bowl.” Once broken down into components, the logical conclusion is that cereal must be a soup. 

One student drew an unorthodox parallel between cereal pieces and croutons. Kavita Premkumar ’22 explained, “Cereal is a soup. It’s mostly liquid, can be served cool, and it’s basically croutons, which can be used as a garnish instead of crackers, as a replacement for the crusty toast topping in French onion soup, or as a thickening agent for a chowder.” 

The thought of cereal being considered a soup was heresy to many. The idea of it prompted a quick retaliatory argument from Mike Pepin ’22, who declared, “Cereal is not a soup. It’s a different entity. Cereal and soup are different categories.

In the grocery store, there’s a cereal aisle and a soup aisle.” Others, like Stevent Cleto ’22, refused to even engage with the idea, who said, “I don’t know. That’s too controversial. Milk does not belong in soup. Let it just be cereal and soup.”

With so many persuasive arguments, we must turn to the facts. Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines soup as “a liquid dish, typically made by boiling meat, fish, or vegetables, etc., in stock or water.” Many of the arguments in support of cereal being considered a soup are validated by the technicality provided by the word ‘typically,’ meaning soup is not always made by boiling meat, fish, or vegetables. Yet, what it all BOILS down to is: Is milk a broth? Many people would say no, and they are right. Broth is defined as “Liquid in which meat, fish, cereal grains, or vegetables have been cooked,” according to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary. By this logic, cold cereal in milk can not be considered soup (oatmeal may be able to, but that’s a whole other conversation). 

The broth argument was common and was further explained by James Sena ’22. He claimed that “In my humble opinion, cereal isn’t a soup. However, the source of the argument is whether or not milk is considered a broth. I say no to that. It would be as if you said pudding is jello. They are essentially the same, but still very different.” Shelby Hanks ’22 took a similar stance, arguing that, “Milk is not a broth because it is a single ingredient that requires no cooking or additives. According to a dictionary definition of soup, broth must be boiled or cooked, and milk does not require that process to be enjoyed with your choice of cereal.”

A bowl of cereal. Photo from

In the end, it seems clear that since uncooked milk is not a broth, cold cereal in cold milk is not a soup.